There are now 25 cases of Measles confirmed in the Mid-West region since the beginning of the year. The majority of these are in Limerick City and one is in Clare but linked to Limerick.
Almost two thirds of cases are aged between 15 and 40 years demonstrating that measles is not just an illness of childhood. Half of the cases havebeen hospitalised.
Measles is a serious public health issue. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.
It is spread easily through coughing and sneezing. Measles can lead to serious
complications such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain and can, in rare cases, lead to a fatal disease of the brain which develops years after the infection.
The mortality rate from measles infection is 1-2 per 1,000 cases. This measles outbreak is continuing because we do not have herd immunity – i.e. the proportion of the population immune to measles is less than 95%.
The only effective protection against measles is two doses of the MMR vaccine.
Anyone who has not had two doses of MMR is at high risk of getting measles if they come in contact with someone who has it. Many adults this age also have young children, which means they are more likely to be exposed to measles and may in turn expose their babies and young children to measles if they get it.
Patients with symptoms of measles should avoid presenting to the emergency department where possible. If it is necessary to seek urgent care, it is important to inform the ambulance service or emergency department that you have symptoms consistent with measles beforehand so that the appropriate precautions can be taken.
Similarly, if you have been in contact with a confirmed case of measles and are seeking medical attention, please inform the healthcare provider before attending.
An Outbreak Control Team made up of representatives from the HSE is involved in managing the outbreak in an effort to prevent further spread. This involves following up on every case of measles or suspected measles, arranging vaccination for people who have been in contact with someone who is infected, running immunisation clinics and outbreak communications.
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